What is a Heart Rate Chart?

By: Editor in Fitness on 28-02-2018

Heart rate charts can both help people determine their general fitness level and adjust the intensity of exercise based on physiologic cues. Heart rate measures the number of times the heart beats in one minute, and resting heart rate can offer insight into heart health and risk for cardiac conditions.

Many athletes now wear heart rate monitors in order to ensure that they are hitting their goal heart rate during workouts. While even top performers can only stay at their personal maximum heart rates for a couple of minutes, this top range allows for the largest gains and can actually increase one's personal maximum. Beginner and intermediate athletes can use heart rate charts to set their own targets based on fitness goals and current health.

Resting heart rate is one of the vital signs commonly taken every time a patient sees a medical professional because unusually high or low values are indicators of underlying heart or lung problems or even things like thyroid disease, anemia, and infection in the body. In the long run, high-intensity exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, and avoiding smoking or excessive alcohol can push a patient into a healthier bracket on the heart rate chart.

Shorter term, though, a single heart rate value can be misleading. Caffeine, sleep deprivation, and anxiety, even just about getting evaluated, can skew a measurement, making it more difficult to accurately interpret. Measuring heart rate at different times and places provides the best picture of a person's resting heart rate. Heart rate charts take a couple factors into account to define what normal is for a person's demographic and are useful both in medical practice and athletic training.

Heart Rate Charts Explained

There are two primary categories of heart rate charts, one depicting resting heart rate and one showing target and maximum heart rates during exercise. The first type helps with heart screenings and is indicative of the overall health of a person's heart. One axis shows different age groups, usually in increments of 5, 7, or 10, and the other axis lists heart rates. Different levels of health from poor to professional athlete are denoted by color. This provides an easy visual to see if a heart rate/age combination is in a good range or, conversely, needs improvement.

Athletes primarily use heart rate charts showing target and maximum heart rate ranges. While high-level competitors use this information to get into optimal shape, even individuals new to exercise can benefit. Combining a heart rate monitor and these charts, it becomes very easy to determine how strenuous a workout was on a scale from warm-up to the danger zone. Target and maximum charts are either ranges based on age or a percentage of resting heart rate based on age.

What Is A Standard Heart Rate

A universal standard heart rate does not exist, but there are recommendations for absolute maximum and minimum healthy rates. Anything between 60 and 100 beats per minute is considered okay. Except in cases of extreme athletes, heart rates below 50 require further examination and possibly procedures like a pacemaker implantation. On the other hand, heart rates over 100 also definitely need to be evaluated.

While age does play a role when evaluating how resting heart rate relates to overall health, generally speaking a heart rate between about 70 and 75 beats per minute is average for adults. Lower rates are optimal, though.

It is important to note that standard heart rates are resting measurements, and there are a few guidelines for getting the most accurate reading. Abstaining from smoking, alcohol, or caffeine shortly before taking a pulse as well as sitting down and resting for about ten minutes prior can give a more accurate result. The room temperature may also cause the reading to fluctuate a bit, with higher temperatures resulting in slightly higher pulse rates.